HE came to be known as a public servant from a well-off clan in Ormoc City. But only a few are perhaps aware that former Commission on Elections commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal is also a bike enthusiast.
While he was into other sports before as a kid such as football and baseball, the prominent lawyer eventually got hooked to the two-wheeled, pedal-powered vehicle since his entire family is into it.
“Everyone in the family are cycling enthusiasts, it was my late dad (Terry Larrazabal) who got me into cycling. Tinuruan niya akong mag-bike,” recalled the man they called 'Goyo' in a rare appearance at the PSA Forum Tuesday at Shakey’s Malate.
He became a cycling lover from then on.
“Biker first, lawyer second,” said the University of San Carlos alumnus, who served as Comelec commissioner from 2009 to 2011 and was among those credited for paving the way for the first-ever automated national elections in the country in May 2010.
“You know a bike is not only a bike. A bike is a means to an adventure. Pagsakay mo pa lang ang nasa isip mo, saan at ano ang pupuntahan ko ngayon,” stressed the 41-year-old former provincial election supervisor of Bulacan, Camarines Sur, and Basilan, and regional elections director of Bicol.
During his stint as commissioner, Larrazabal would often bike from his home to the Comelec office in Intramuros.
And through biking, the lawyer said he was able to take a holistic approach to problems within the Comelec.
“Most of my colleagues in the Comelec were legalistic, so I was the one who usually made the holistic approach through what I have learned as a cyclist,” said Larrazabal, whose family owns the Don Felipe Hotel in Ormoc.
His family’s love for biking eventually gave birth to the annual Terry Larrazabal Bike Festival in honor of his father, a former mayor of Ormoc City.
Now on its ninth year, the event takes place from October 24 to 27 in Ormoc City and is expected to attract more than 1,000 entries from around the country.
Highlight of the festivity is the Tour de Larrazabal, a three-day, four-stage race consisting of a time trial (5 km), road race (90 km), mountain stage (140 km), and criterium (2 km loop).
In the mountain bike class, there will be a cross-country race, single-speed cross country, 27.5 and 29 km cross country, and a downhill competition.
There will also be a beer run where after a short cross-country race, the top participants must finish a couple of bottles of beer before being declared winners.
On top of this, there will be competition among BMX riders and folding bike aficionados, all part of a cyclo-cross or cyclo-tourism. A pineapple trail run will also be held, and will take the runners through and across a pineapple plantation.
Aside from the Tour de Larrazabal, which is limited to 200 entries, there will also be races in the youth (14-17 years), juniors (18-23), seniors (23-29), masters 1 (30-39), masters 2 (40-above), and women’s (open).
The single-speed cross-country as well as the 27.5 and 29er cross-country is open to all as well as the downhill competition (beginners/hardtail, intermediate, executive, pro, open and foreign).
“This is in memory of my father who died of lung cancer in 1999. In this race everybody becomes part of one big family,” said Larrazabal.